In mid-February of 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York signed the Child Victims Act, a significant piece of legislation for those who suffered sexual abuse as children. The act has been praised by parties on both sides of the aisle as the right thing to do for victims, allowing them a path to justice that they otherwise would not have had. If you are unfamiliar with the Child Victims Act in Albany or how it may affect you if you were a victim of sexual abuse as a child, here’s an overview of what you should know.
What Is The Child Victims Act?
For those who were victims of sexual abuse as children, the Child Victims Act should have been passed years ago. The bill that languished for years at the state Capitol finally became law in February. The new law extends the statute of limitations on certain civil actions, providing victims of abuse with an opportunity to pursue justice.
What Does The Child Victims Act Do?
Specifically, the Child Victims Act does five very distinct things. According to The New York Senate, the Child Victims Act:
- Offers training to judges who are tasked with handling child sexual abuse cases;
- Creates a one-year window during which barred civil claims (against alleged perpetrators) can be revived;
- Extends the statute of limitations in civil sexual abuse cases involving children to when the involved child reaches 55 years of age;
- Extends the criminal statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases by five years, allowing sexual abuse survivors until age 28 to press felony charges and age 25 to press misdemeanor charges; and
- Eliminates the “notice of claim” requirement that is necessary for other civil suits against government entities, thereby allowing claims to be brought against both private and public institutions.
New York is not the first state to enact legislation that extends the statute of limitations in civil or/and criminal sex abuse cases involving children. The bill has been praised by many as a crucial step in making New York a more victim-friendly state.
Do You Have A Civil Action As A Victim Of Sexual Abuse As A Child?
Many people who suffered sexual abuse as a child, whether by a member of the clergy, a family member, a stranger, a teacher, or another party are fearful about the repercussions of speaking up. Indeed, in many cases, the child (or now adult) did report the abuse to a trusted adult or even the police, only to have the matter covered up or dismissed. Shame, fear, and guilt often plague victims, despite the fact that they are victims who have done nothing wrong and deserve justice.
What’s more, many victims do not understand that in addition to the state bringing criminal charges against a perpetrator, the victims themselves also have the right to bring forth a civil case for damages resulting from the abuse.
Damages that are recoverable in a civil sexual abuse claim might include economic damages for medical expenses, psychological services, and other financial losses, as well as noneconomic damages for distress, emotional anguish, trauma, and punitive damages as well.
Steps To Take Now
If you were a victim of sexual abuse as a child, you may have been keeping the secret for years. If you have not considered pursuing a civil action against your abuser, the new law in New York makes now the right time to consider your legal actions. One of your first steps should be consulting with a personal injury lawyer who has experience representing victims of sexual abuse and truly understands the sensitive nature of these cases. At the law offices of Powers & Santola, LLP, we offer free consultations and can discuss your case with you in a confidential manner today. We treat each and every caller with the respect and dignity they deserve when discussing a matter of such sensitivity and importance.
Schedule Your Free Consultation With A Child Victims Act Lawyer In Albany
Our lawyers strongly support the Child Victims Act and believe that all victims of child abuse deserve justice and compensation for the horrific wrong they have suffered. We know how intimidating taking action can be – our Albany Child Victims Act lawyers are here to support and aid you. To schedule a free consultation with our law office, please call us directly or send us a message telling us more about your story and how we can help.